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external image Roman_alphabet.png

Topics on this page:

How Latin Spread
Ancient Latin Alphabet
Early Latin
Classical Latin
Late Latin
Women and Education in Rome

Focus Questions

Map of the Roman Empire

How did the Roman alphabet and Latin language spread throughout the Roman empire?

How did Latin become the language of education for more than 1,000 years?

What is the role of Latin and Greek in scientific and academic vocabulary?

external image 200px-Hebrew_timeline.svg.pngHistory of Latin timeline.

How did the Latin language Spread?

map-ancient-rome-2.jpgMultimedia.pngView this interactive map to see how the Roman's conquered all of Western Europe and spread their language

Here is also an image of the letters of the Roman alphabet, including the pronunciations of each letter.

Ancient Latin Alphabet (753-501 BCE)

  • 753 BCE is the traditionally accepted date of the founding of Rome.
  • The Latin alphabet was adapted from the Etruscan alphabet during the 7th century BCE.
  • The earliest known inscription in the Latin alphabet dates from the 6th century BCE.
  • The inscription was found on a pin, which translates to "Manius made me for Numerius."
  • The Letters Y and Z were adopted from the Greek alphabet to write words having to do with loans.

Early Latin (250-100 BCE)

  • The first Latin literature was being written during this time. It was mostly loose translations of already written Greek works or imitations of established Greek genres.
  • During this period the Romans were also busy conquering the Mediterranean world, disseminating the Latin language along the way.
  • This is how the Romans differed from the Greeks and Phoenicians and is why Latin and the Roman alphabet became the dominant language for centuries. While the Greeks and Phoenicians remained isolated from their neighboring regions, the Romans extended their citizenship to every part of Italy and then began conquering what was to become the Roman Empire, which included Greece and Phoenicia.

Classical Latin (100 BCE - 150 CE) To learn more about the writers of the period, check out this PBS feature.
"To Err is Human" in Latin
"To Err is Human" in Latin

  • Ovid, Virgil, Pliny the Elder, and Tacitus write masterpieces of Latin literature.
    • The literary language becomes fixed and gradually loses touch with the ever-changing spoken language, which is known today as Vulgar Latin.
  • To administrate the large Roman Empire numerous letters, laws, and decrees were sent out to every corner of Europe, Africa, and the near East.
    • Latin became the language of government, poetry, learning, and science for nearly 2,000 years and it is because of this it had an influence on the development of languages in modern times.
Multimedia.pngHere is also a link to a YouTube video of an individual having a brief dialogue in Classical Latin, and continues to explain the vocabulary and tenses used.

Female_Rose.pngSulpicia and Proba are two examples of women writing poetry in the Roman Empire. sulpicia.gif

external image Red_apple.jpgHave your students select a Latin phrase that they're familiar with (in English) from this website.

Then have the students creatively write out the phrase in Latin using colored markers, pencils, etc.

Each student will then present their Latin phrase to the class and explain what it means in English. Display the phrases somewhere in the classroom.

Late Latin (200 - 500 AD)

  • More works are written in the Vulgar Latin. Click here to learn more about the use of Vulgar Latin versus Classical Latin, as well as the languages eventual demise.
  • Western half of the empire succumbs to barbarian invasions (last emperor deposed in 476 CE).
  • Greek speaking east survives until 1453 CE, using Latin in official contexts.

During the Renaissance, Latin was revived and as science developed, Europeans found it useful to have a universal Latinate terminology to facilitate international research (1400 - 1600 CE).

Latin continued to be the European language of diplomacy into the 18th Century (before being replaced by French). Today Latin is primarily used as mottos for countries or other organizations as well as in the world of science to provide a universal name for concepts, objects, and forces in the natural world.

Link here to trace the history of the Latin language with this video tutorial

Latin is important! Show students how knowing Latin and Greek roots can improve their understanding of the scientific world that we live in with this powerpoint.

Examples of science vocabulary with Latin roots are provided as well as teaching strategies to help students actively learn Latin and Greek roots!

Roots of these words are not only found in scientific vocabulary, but are commonly used in practices of law as well. Here is a Glossary of Legal Latin to show how many words are still in common use - at least in court!

Additionally, Latin is at the root of many other languages, and learning other Romance Languages can come easier once you know one!

external image zitslanguages.gif

This page shows how the Phoenician Alphabet turned into the Greek, and then the Greek to Roman, and how the Roman alphabet is still what we use today! Edsitement: The Roman Alphabet is Our Alphabet

Women and Education in Rome

womens history.jpgWomen in Ancient Rome were not considered equal to men, and as such did not receive education academically - instead they were expected to remain inside the home and learn home to tend to it. They were under the complete control of men, usually a husband or father, having very little legal power or rights. However, ancient Roman women were not ignorant of their position or of politics, and many exerted influence through their husbands.

Click here to read about women's status in Ancient Rome.
In addition, here is another article that examines the roles of women in ancient Roman society, as well as a few noteworthy women who were well known throughout the empire for their deeds.

For a more quickly summarized look, here students can click between different aspects of children's life in terms of education, the family, and different opportunities based on gender and wealth: BBC: Roman Children .

Additionally, here is more information on women's rights and slave's rights, including education, in a Question & Answer format. Students can click through themselves, discovering more related content: Women's & Slave's Rights.

For Further Reading

womens history.jpgbook.pngWomen Latin Poets: Language, Gender, and Authority from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century
This book contains hundreds of translated Latin poems by women authors, providing evidence of the intelligence and academic capabilities of women before they were considered to be either.


Image of Sulpicia from: http://www.crystalinks.com/sulpicia.html